from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To finish or decorate the border or edge of.
  • n. An ornamental border or edging.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An ornamental border on clothing, furniture or a violin; beading, stringing.
  • v. To decorate (wood, cloth etc.) with a purfle or ornamental border; to border.
  • v. To ornament with a bordure of ermines, furs, etc. or with gold studs or mountings.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A hem, border., or trimming, as of embroidered work.
  • n. A border of any heraldic fur.
  • transitive v. To decorate with a wrought or flowered border; to embroider; to ornament with metallic threads.
  • transitive v. To ornament with a bordure of emines, furs, and the like; also, with gold studs or mountings.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To ornament or decorate with a wrought or flowered border; border.
  • To edge with fur.
  • To line with fur: as, a mantling purfled and bordered vair.
  • In heraldry, to decorate with gold mountings, such as the studs or bosses in armor, as in the phrase “a leg in armor proper, purfled or.”
  • In architecture, to decorate richly, as with sculpture.
  • In viol-making, to decorate (the edges of the body of an instrument) with a wavy inlay of valuable wood.
  • To mark or draw in profile.
  • To hem a border.
  • n. A decorated or wrought border; a border of embroidered work.
  • n. Specifically, in heraldry, a border of one of the furs: not common, for a border purfle ermine means no more than a border ermine. An attempt has been made to discriminate the number of rows of the bells of the fur by the terms purfled, counter-purfled, and vair, for one, two, and three rows. It is not usual.


Middle English purfilen, from Old French porfiler, from Vulgar Latin *prōfīlāre : Latin prō-, forth; see pro-1 + Latin fīlum, thread; see gwhī- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French porfiler, from Latin pro- + filum ("thread"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Some carve an edge as a kerf will
    And some like a border more girthful.
    Give me a shape bound
    By a luscious surround:
    The disciplined riot of purfle.

    December 7, 2014